Friday, December 8, 2023

Assam delimitation: 9 opposition parties move to SC against EC proposal

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Nine Opposition parties in Assam have moved the Supreme Court challenging the methodology adopted by the Election Commission in creating a delimitation draft for the state. The ECI notification on 20 June reduced the number of seats dominated by Muslim voters.

The Congress, Raijor Dal, Assam Jatiya Parishad, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Anchalik Gana Morcha have opposed the exercise in the Supreme Court.

The parties challenged Section 8A of the Representation of People Act, 1950, based on which the Election Commission has exercised its power to conduct the delimitation process.

The draft delimitation proposal, adjusting the district population on average, proposes to decrease the number of seats in districts with a Muslim majority.

The ECI, in its press statements, said that after consultation with 11 political parties and 72 organizations, it observed that the population growth in some districts was abnormally high, apparently suggesting the Muslim-dominated districts.

The petition states that by relying on the data of the 2001 census, the ECI created three categories of districts and has taken a different yardstick for each category. It also claims that the process has led to a possible deviation of up to 33% between the populations of the largest and the smallest constituencies.

The draft delimitation in Assam is being done following a 2020 Law Ministry order as the delimitation of constituencies in the state was deferred due to the unfinished National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the law and order situation at the time. In December 2022, the ECI announced that it would initiate the exercise and subsequently met various stakeholders in the state.

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